I’ve been revisiting some familiar movies in upgraded editions, with new transfers and extras; some I haven’t seen in years, even decades, They run the gamut from horror to comedy, thrillers to superheroes, zombies and monsters.
Several new (and a couple of slightly older ) releases restore a range of Italian horrors from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, including a pair of artless movies by Bruno Mattei, Hell of the Living Dead (1980) and Rats: Night of Terror (1984); one of Mario Bava’s finest (and most perverse) Gothics, The Whip and the Body (1963), as well as his final made-for-television work, La Venere d’Ille (1979), co-directed by his son Lamberto; and a 4K restoration of Lucio Fulci’s gore masterpiece City of the Living Dead (1980).
In addition to their own regular schedule of releases, Vinegar Syndrome serves as an umbrella for an eclectic (and seemingly ever-growing) collection of small labels, many of which specialize in titles so far out on the fringe that their appeal lies in their strangeness and sheer audacity — like Pathogen (2006), a zombie movie made by 12-year-old schoolgirl Emily Hagins, or Final Flesh (2009), an experiment in which copies of a script were sent to producers of on-demand fetish porn who were free to film Vernon Chatman’s absurd apocalyptic family drama however they saw fit. The latest batch I received includes these, plus a sordid made-in-Florida slice of exploitation called Satan’s Children (1975), the faux ’80s local TV broadcast WNUF Halloween Special (2013), and a pair of more polished movies closer to the mainstream: Out of Order (1984), a claustrophobic German thriller about four people trapped in an elevator, and We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (2021), about an isolated teenager seeking connection in a potentially dangerous on-line cult.
Spanish zombies, rural American zombies, a Korean serial killer, monsters and illicit mindbending drugs, a blood-fuelled car, small-town fascism, an eccentric family in retreat from the modern world, and a man with a truffle-hunting pig – there’s no pattern here in my recent movie-watching other than a restless search for the original and the entertaining.